Readers, I am so excited for PodCon 2 this weekend, especially since there are so many extra events bracketed around them and so many wonderful friends I’ve made in podcasting to meet in person (and stickers to collect!).
For those who haven’t been or heard of it, PodCon is a podcast convention in Seattle, Washington, taking place this year on January 19th and 20th at the Washington State Convention Center. The road to PodCon 2 has been interesting. There’s no doubt that every convention experiences growing pains after a successful first year (I thought PodCon 1 was highly successful; read Wil Williams’ post about it here), and I’ve seen PodCon’s in areas I hadn’t been expecting.
I expected problems in things like adjusting accessibility within the convention center or in paying guests and speakers, but what’s been front and center are issues with the schedule. The schedule dropped fairly late all things considered, and ended up needing clarification that it was an incomplete schedule, as all that was present was a rotation of featured guests across various panels and live shows, and very little variety or diversity, especially in POC or transgender speakers. They’ve since updated it, and are even adding workshops as late as yesterday, which has made planning and prioritizing what I’m going to be able to see difficult.
As a result, it’s also a heavily packed schedule, with a large focus on live shows and comedic panels, rather than events with tangible advice for creating podcasts as an independent business. There’s a clear reliance on the remote attendance option -- PodCon records a majority of their panels as well as live shows and other events -- so that people who want to go to multiple events in one timeslot can listen to it later.
Watching these scheduling issues so soon after the problems with Worldcon, in particular, has given me a lot of opportunity to think about what makes for successful convention planning, and about diversity in conventions of all kinds. Granted, it also gave me flashbacks to my days as a convention planner; things I would not go back to for $5000, Alex. Convention planning isn’t easy, and trying to tetris all the things your attendees could want into two days is a logistical nightmare of its own. Even so, when creating things like featured guest lists, community panel acceptances, and speaker line-ups, we should always be thinking about marginalized voices, and making sure they’re speaking about not just their experience as a marginalized person, but about their work and career.
However, I have to be clear: I’m really looking forward to PodCon. There is plenty of excitement for what’s in the schedule, and for my own adventures as a speaker. A large number of independent fiction podcasters are going to be attending, for instance, and have their own tables and booths to help spread the good word of fiction podcasting. There are some excellent panels and workshops lined up, such as Transgender Representation in Audio Drama and Complicated Ideas, Simple Podcasts. I roped my friend into coming with me, and got to tell her all about the live shows that are happening, like Oh No Ross & Carrie, Sawbones, and Spirits, and I loved watched her face light up in delight.
If you’re wondering where to find me at PodCon, there’s a short list of events I’ll be at at the bottom of this issue. Are you going to PodCon? Maybe we can say hi!